What does Valentine’s Day, dating, dinner and a movie, marriage and couples have in common? Rituals.
A ritual is defined as ‘any method of doing something in which the details are always faithfully repeated.’ Rituals give life meaning and help us celebrate our lives. They offer security, stability and routine and a sense of calmness to an otherwise chaotic existence.
Rituals may include more than special events on your calendar – you may invent morning and nighttime rites to ease you through your day or to connect with others.
Rituals date back thousands of years and are apparent when we study the ancient Egyptians. Theirs was a culture seeped in traditions. Eating, drinking, bathing, hunting and burying the dead were a succession of rituals. They used fire, drawings, metal and jewels which signified important events in their lives and gave their existence purpose.
Over centuries, mankind has lost the importance of rites. However, many of us in the 21st century are reconsidering traditions and adding them to our lives as we desperately seek meaning during this increasingly shallow and disconnected time.
We’ve become a caffeine-addicted, Blackberry toting society engaged in technology and speed and we’ve become disconnected from each other. As a result, relationships have paid the price.
Consider the husband getting gratification from late-night computer gaming or surfing or the mother addicted to her cell phone and Palm Pilot. Consider your daily rites: Are you kept so busy you don’t stop to have a meaningful conversation with anyone? What if you eliminated your errands and took a few minutes to talk to your neighbor, storekeeper, banker or barber? You could catch your breath, make a new friend and learn something new.
At work, you might meet colleagues and socialize during a lunch hour instead of running a million errands.
At the end of a busy week, you might designate Friday night as Movie or board game night with friends or family. If being at home doesn’t excite you, you could sign up for sports and get out your weekly frustrations.
Rituals are great when you have children as they appreciate stability. It’s easier to set up rites with small children as you’re their universe; they enjoy reading, being creative, building things, playing with their toys and having you around.
The challenge lies with teenagers; they love their friends and tend to dismiss their parents but this isn’t always true. In fact, they often crave your presence. If you find something they enjoy, do it with them because your work will always be there but they won’t.
My oldest son loves to beat me at video games and although my ego feels pretty bruised while he battles it out with me in a video game, our bond grows.
When you add traditions and rites to your life, you add meaning, a sense of permanence, history and connection with your friends, family and children.